SPECIAL TO THE PRESS
BRISTOL - It is not how you start, it is how you finish.
A saying that stands true to Bristol Blues infielder Max Goione as he has turned it around both offensively and defensively for the Blues this season.
In his first six games with the Blues, Goione was batting .150 with no homers and one RBI. Since June 13, Goione is batting .257 with one home run and three RBIs, raising his batting average .218. Those might not be terrific numbers, but it’s progress that he believes was well needed.
“I started off the season very slow,” Goione said. “But, I made a couple of adjustments with coach [Ronnie] Palmer. We talked about it and we hit the cage a little bit and I feel like I am just seeing the ball really well right now.”
Those adjustments he made were opening up his stance and lowering his hands to feel more relaxed at the plate. He says prior to making those changes he was more stiff, but now, he can follow through more in the zone.
Goione has also picked up his game on the defensive end. Goione was the star of a spectacular play on Wednesday when he fielded a sharp ground ball and flipped the ball across his back to Jake Frasca to get an out.
“It was a chopper up the middle and it bounced off the pitcher’s head,” Goione said. “I wasn’t sure if I was going to get to it, I knew we couldn’t probably turn two. So I just turned and made the backhand and stick it to Jake.”
Despite the play receiving a rousing ovation from the fans that day, Palmer said it is a play he is used to seeing from Goione during practice.
“Max is a good ballplayer and understands the game,” Palmer said. “For us as coaches, when we come to the ballpark, we have [batting practice] everyday and we see our guys do it every other minute. So for us, it is just one of those things. But for him to do it instinctively and flip it with his glove, it shows the level of baseball players we have in this team.”
The way Goione has changed his level of play, is a perfect symbol of how the Blue season has progressed. The team has won nine of their last 13 games entering Friday and their offense is clicking on all cylinders.
“We are just seeing the ball really well,” Goione said. “We go to the plate looking to hit the ball hard and looking to find the barrel. We are not looking to take walks, but we will take it. We just want to get hits and just still doing our part.”
He believes that with the strides that the team and he are making, they are more competitive now more than ever.
“We are in it to win it,” Goione said. “We are going to do everything we can to get that win and fight and battle back as hard as we can.”
Kimberly Pena can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @Kimberly_P12